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Chicago Ideas Week is Over; We Still Don’t Know Jack

Chicago Ideas Week came and went, and as far as I can tell, our everyday problems have yet to be solved.

This past week was an idea extravaganza here in our own backyard.

Yes, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) 2012 was four-days of back-to-back sessions where the goals were to promote the sharing of ideas, to inspire actions, and ignite changes to positively impact our world.

Well, CIW came and went, and as far as I can tell, our everyday problems have yet to be solved. How dare they get my hopes up.

Top thinkers from all over the world were shipped in. We’re talking high caliber intellectuals from a vast array of fields. You wanted to know what’s up with medicine? Deepak Chopra was on call. Questions about the military? You could have been briefed by General Colin Powell. Pressing business question?  CNN’s Chief Business Correspondent, Ali Velshi was on hand to balance your budget. Didn’t know what to wear? Elle MacPherson was there to tell you yes to the boots, or no to the belt. If you could ask it, they could answer it…. at least that’s what they promised. 

As a Patch groupie, which means I read what’s happening in neighboring towns as well as my own, I happen to know that every town could benefit from a team of bright professionals. Even just a few ideas from these masterminds might help solve crises like those plaguing our community. Issues like:

  • How do we get local drivers to stop making illegal left turns into parking spaces across streets?
  • Why can’t police write more tickets (not just warnings) to people who disregard the hands-free cell phone law?
  • Why don’t all homeowners trim their hedges to keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians?
  • How come movie theaters can’t figure out how to de-activate cell phones so patrons cannot make calls or text during the shows?
  • How can I stop people from parking across the street from my driveway? (I’ve hit two cars already.)
  • Is it possible to make Starbucks a utility? I’d pay for that pipeline.
  • How do we continue to encourage constructive comments and debates online when people insist on leaving nasty comments while hiding behind pseudonyms? I’m talking to you “Life is Good.”

Apparently the CIW Team had their sites set on loftier topics.  Discussion forum titles included: The Meaning of Life: What’s it all About?; Criminal Justice, Beyond the Verdict; Military, From the Front Lines to the Home Front; and, just for Elle, Fashion, Why Are You Wearing That? But like I said, other than MacPherson’s topics, few were for us regular folk.

So, while military generals and political pundits were ruminating over the big stuff, I was left at a four way stop sign wondering who had the right of way. In truth, I know the answer to that, but apparently no one else does. How come there is no CIW for the little stuff? 

Out here in the real world, we need our own CIW. Imagine a panel of super-brainiacs like Stephen Hawking, Paul Allen and Sheldon Cooper, all coming together to teach our high school students how to fit 25 hours of living into a 24-hour day. (Check my math: How is a kid meant to squeeze in 8 hours of school, 3 hours of after school activities, 4 hours of homework, a recommended 10 hours of sleep, and random few minutes for eating, texting, showering, and grunting to parents and stay current with the NFL?) That answer would be useful.

The odds of getting Hawking to agree to participate in our small town panel are slim, but there was a member of the CIW who might be easier to book. Rostered among the high-powered speakers, and Elle, was a 15-year-old kid named Jack Andraka. Jack is the 2012 Intel Science Fair Grand Prize Winner for his invention of a “dipstick” sensor for pancreatic cancer detection.  His invention had an accuracy rate of 100 percent.

Now this is the kind of kid we need on our home team to solve our town’s problems. If at age 15 he could find a way to detect cancer, I’ll bet he could figure out how to deactivate cell phones in movie theaters. 

Apparently it’s all too evident, we don’t know Jack.

Bob Levi October 13, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Here's an idea for handling the problems so eloquently stated by Betsy : How about people taking responsibility for their own actions? Too many people don't believe the rules and laws apply to them. I'm old enough to remember when common courtesy was the norm. Looks like civility-as-we-knew-it contiunes declining.
Michael Ioffe October 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Dear Betsy, You see how many ideas we have from you. The same could offer almost everyone. Collection of these ideas and implementation of them could solve all problems with USA economy. As physicist by education and designer engineer by experience I found many solution, which could restore, in my opinion, economy in USA, but who will listen me? I am ready to be a part of any think tank in Highland Park and vicinity. Michael Ioffe.
Jill Goldstein October 13, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Found out about Idea Week when it was almost over...story of my life. I like the more practical Idea Week, hopefully I won't miss it too.
Guido McGinty October 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Just what we need, more laws. The biggest plague in our community are those that are constantly clamoring for more laws to correct every perceived slight. Were I the benevolent dictator, every law passed would require the repeal of three laws already on the books. Citizens already commit an average of three felonies a day, usually without their knowledge. http://www.threefeloniesaday.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx

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